Reported by 7Teen Reporter Sydney Dunn
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Louisiana has the fifth highest number of AIDS cases in the United States and it's a disease that doesn't discriminate against age. The number of AIDS cases among young people is growing.
It's a disease that shouldn't be ignored. And that's why some area teens are trying to get the word out.
AIDS Awareness: it's a simple phrase that carries a powerful message.
Andie Hoeflicker and Sarah Jones know just how important it is. They lost their uncle to AIDS.
"It's affected us tremendously." said Hoeflicker. "When our uncle passed away, we didn't know much about it then. We just knew what it was. We never knew how many people it really affected." The sisters' uncle was only 17 when he was diagnosed.
Terry Estes with the Southwest Louisiana AIDS council says that HIV infections in young people are skyrocketing.
Estes: "People still continue to believe it happens to other people, but it can't happen to them. We know that that's not true."
More than 27,000 people are diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in Louisiana, a number that has motivated the Barbe Student Council to bring awareness to the issue.
President Joe Guillory helped organize a recent walk for AIDS.
Guillory: "Really, HIV/AIDS is the biggest pandemic on the rise and we feel at Barbe, at A.M. Barbe Student Council, that it deserves some publicity and it deserves people to stand up for it."
But these students aren't just standing up for AIDS. They are trying to help prevent it one step at a time. The first step-raising is awareness.
Hoeflicker: "AIDS awareness isn't as big as it should be. We wanted to let more people know that AIDS is here, it's in Louisiana, it affects lots of people."